HISTORY OF THE FLOWER MARKET
The San Francisco floral industry developed during the 1850s Gold Rush. With the advancement of the overall economy and the growth of individual wealth, flowers were no longer considered luxury goods. Flora had become an important element of decor, added color and celebratory atmosphere to births and weddings, and brought comfort at funerals and memorials. Flowers were suddenly an integral part of cultural ceremonies for people from a wide range of classes and socioeconomic status.
"And so, the Flower Market stands not only as a notable landmark for the industry, but also as evidence of an American tradition: achieving prosperity through cooperation and hard work breaking down racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic barriers."
1906 EARTHQUAKE //
The 1906 San Francisco earthquake did not affect the floral industry in terms of demand — flowers were selling steadily at good prices since people bought them for visiting graves, injured friends, or relatives. However, the local government banned all street sales, which initiated the search for a permanent indoor market.
This new law encouraged growers to organize themselves to lease or buy properties, and solidify a place to sell flowers.
31 LICK PLACE //
Three years later, in 1909, San Francisco’s first grower-operated indoor flower market was established at 31 Lick Place. The market was a central location for all three cultural groups to sell their products. Despite language differences and unique business customs, the unlikely coalition of Italian, Chinese, and Japanese growers was able to combine forces due to the complementary contributions of each group.
The increased number of growers and thriving business dictated yet another marketplace expansion. All three groups moved into a new market at 171 Fifth Street, sharing space but operating independently. Together, they set policies and managed the market. The coalition protected the growers’ needs for fair prices while supplying the buyers’ desire for access to a broad selection in all one place.
1929 - 1945 //
Great Depression, World War II, 1929 – 1945
Although the stock market crash of 1929 and the following Great Depression harmed the Flower Market, business rebounded in the late 1930s.